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Does the careers service in the UK work?

(57 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 28-May-13 11:12:33

The National Careers Council are reporting to the Government on the current state of the careers service in the UK and they've asked for our help.

It's all very timely because it coincides with Mumsnet's Workfest, sponsored by Barclays on June 15th which is all about helping mums get back into work or start their own business (still a few places left if you're interested wink)

If you could take a couple of minutes to answer the following questions we'd be ever so grateful.

~ First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?

~ And what sort of career aspirations do you have for your children?

We'll let you know what the Gov say on June 5th.


OP’s posts: |
hermancakedestroyer Tue 28-May-13 18:12:34

~ First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?
I did not know there was a National careers service and do notknow of anyone who has used it.

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?

My children are not old enough to get careers advice yet but I work in a secondary school and a colleague of mine runs the careers service for the year 10 students in our school. In my opinion, the government seem to be cutting funding in the careers service and useful tools for the students such as work experience and are expecting the parents to pay for their children to be able to experience the workplace. In these tough economic times, when parents have to make very tough decisions about where to spend their next pound a lot of parents are having to say they can't afford for their children to do work experience. With jobs being at an absolute premium and the students entering the workplace with little or no experience at all compared to adults that have been made redundant and can offer lots of experience they don't stand a chance. Then we get a situation where the students start claiming unemployment benefit on a long-term basis which costs the tax payer more than if a bit of money had been allocated to work experience visits at school.

~ And what sort of career aspirations do you have for your children?

I fear for my children's career aspirations but encourage them to seize every opportunity that comes their way and work hard at school. I am encouraging them that if they put their mind's to it they can achieve anything they want.

flow4 Tue 28-May-13 23:04:42

No, it's not working. No, we haven't used the NCS, unless Connexions is part of it, and then DS1 has. It was pretty useless. No, there doesn't seem to have been much guidance at school - certainly nothing I was informed about.

There was no advice/support to tell DS he shd be doing a level 3 course after his GCSEs, and he ended up on a totally unsuitable level 1 course, with myself as a lone voice telling him that it wd be far too easy. Then, when he was close to getting thrown off it for non-attendance because he was bored, and I finally persuaded him to go to Connexions to explore other options, they told him they couldn't help because he was already on a course, and to come back if/when he finished or got kicked off! Their only interest seemed to be in targeting and preventing young people fm becoming 'NEET's.

Thankfully, DS is back on track now, doing the level 3 course he wanted to do last year, and doing well. He is beginning to have some ideas about what he'd like to do, and has some chance of achieving that.

KatyMac Tue 28-May-13 23:07:46

Yes - they won't talk to DD as she is too young
No - work experience has been cut & there is little/no understanding of her career path
To enjoy her job & change it when it becomes less so

dietstartstmoz Tue 28-May-13 23:15:59

Flow4-the connexions service you refer to are probably only paid to work with people who are NEET. The college would be paid to do any careers guidance work with existing students. This is unfortunately the case I many areas, although there are still some existing connexions services and schools purchasing a careers service from them so funding all depends on where you live

flow4 Tue 28-May-13 23:33:25

Connexions does it all in our area, diet. What little there is. Or did last year, anyway .

purits Wed 29-May-13 11:50:52

"Does the careers service in the UK work?"

No. It didn't when I was at school and it doesn't now for the DC. What anyone wants is a personalised service that is relevant to their life whereas the [quote] careers service [unquote] is only ever about some Target eg removing x per cent off the NEETs register.
I find it much more productive to trawl the internet for information and then use my own brain & my own connections.

streakybacon Wed 29-May-13 16:19:56

I wasn't aware of the National Careers Service. I thought Connexions had replaced it nationally, but judging from comments here it seems not. There seem to be regional differences in how the service is provided.

I've had involvement with Connexions here (north east) - they work with schools and ds (14) has an advisor though he's home educated.

My ds has special needs so I've approached Connexions on that basis. I'm aware that in this area Connexions are involved with statemented children from Y9 as part of their transition plans, and are involved with statement reviews annually till they leave school and move to the next stage of their education or into work.

When I approached Connexions it was with a specific plan in mind for which I asked for direct advice, and I found them very helpful. Although the person I spoke to initially had little knowledge of SN or elective home education, she took thorough starting details and has since involved advisors from the SN department and 'home and hospital', although technically ds wouldn't fit into their remit. They've acknowledged that he doesn't fit under any individual personal advisor role so they're dipping in and out as appropriate.

However, a fellow home educator visited the same branch of Connexions with her 16 year old to ask what advice they could give, and they came up with nothing. It seems that I got some help (which is ongoing) because ds had a goal to aim for and Connexions were able to begin facilitating that, but they didn't seem to know where to start on a blank page like my friend's son. She found that they had very school-focused expectations and because her son didn't fit their preconceptions, advice was largely irrelevant and unhelpful to their situation.

Ds's aims are to complete IGCSEs in home education then apply for a joint placement with a local sixth form and a specialist autism college. He wants to do International Baccalaureate if he gets the grades, or A levels if not. He'll do Maths and sciences as he wants to go on to university and study Biochemistry or Food Technology.

Is that the sort of info you're looking for AnnMumsnet ?

Lilymaid Wed 29-May-13 16:35:30

Connexions (as it then was) was only interested in DS2 because he appeared to be a NEET. He had dropped off their radar as he had gone from a state school to an independent sixth form and Connexions contacted him when he was on his Gap year.
I don't think the service is interested in those going on to higher education - I hope it does help those who aren't.

secretscwirrels Wed 29-May-13 16:52:16

No it's been of no use whatsoever to either of my DCs. The staff appear to be untrained, unknowledgeable and simply pointed them to a website. Both of my DCs are very able and aspire to go on to higher education but they have had no useful careers advice at all.

One issue is that of job applications. Many young people want to look for part time work while they study. In the current competitive climate this is hard. I naively expected careers guidance to involved learning how to write a CV , a job application and how to succeed at interview.
I had to start from scratch with DS1 when I belatedly realised that he didn't know what a CV looked like. He was 16 and looking for a part time job after GCSEs.

nagynolonger Wed 29-May-13 19:38:59

Connexions have been a total waste of time for all mine.

They have been helped to do a CV of sorts in mentor time and the older one have all had a weeks work experience arranged by school. Some DC (those with contacts) did arrange their own.

The youngest is in year 11 and the school have stopped arranging work experience for his year. They made the person who arranged it redundant. The only careers interview he had was at the end of year 8.

IMO careers information/help in schools is none existent. My 20 yearold managed to secure an apprenticeship in Sept 2012. We researched it without any help from school. They seem to push most towards years for those with poorer results.

There is the chance to go to some sort of careers thing in Derby. The DC come back with free pens and various prospectuses(sp?).

zipzap Thu 30-May-13 01:25:17

~ First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?

No - didn't know it existed and I haven't ever used it. Is it also open to mums wanting to return to work after being SAHM?

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?

Not yet - too young for careers advice.

~ And what sort of career aspirations do you have for your children?

Would love them to go to university and find a well paying job they find interesting and that allows them to have a decent work/life balance... Holy grail methinks - not sure that there are that many of them around these days!

mumblechum1 Thu 30-May-13 11:02:12

No, never heard of the NCS. DS not given any careers advice at school but wouldn't have asked for any because he knows exactly what he wants to do.

I don't have any career aspirations for DS. He is going in the Armed Forces and has known what he wants to do since he was 13 and nothing anyone could say or do would make him waver from that. Only question is whether he goes to Uni first.

alreadytaken Thu 30-May-13 21:15:22

First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?

The local library had connexions leaflets at one stage, I haven't been in recently.

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened? They have had to draw up a cv and they've been told about a couple of websites where they might find information. I think that happened in GSCE year. They also spoke to someone who may have been from connexions and was "useless".

~ And what sort of career aspirations do you have for your children? I want them to have work, something that pays reasonably well and ideally something that they enjoy. I don't want them to have a job that provides a poor work/life balance. Unfortunately they have chosen to be a doctor.

Young people are left to find information for themselves and while this has its uses there is a lot of rediscovering wheels.

Slambang Thu 30-May-13 22:07:11

First - I am declaring a vested interest here. I am an adult careers adviser working partly for NCS. The situation for young people is scandalous. The Connexions service has been pretty much disbanded and schools are now responsible for delivering their own careers education. Of course standards vary greatly from school to school but in my own dcs very large secondary school 'careers' is delivered by the non-specialist citizenship/personal development teachers. Fine if you are an average achiever wanting to do A levels, not so helpful if you need guidance in making major life decisions in a less usual route.

In the National Careers Service we are not allowed to see under 19s. (18 if on JSA). angry For the under 18s we have to direct them to the website and email. Thats' it. A website and email. How many disaffected 16 or 17 year olds who drop out of learning and feel they are failing or that education has failed them are going to seek support from a website? I guess not so many. These are exactly the young people who need face to face in depth guidance and support.

I prompted ds to test use the email service when choosing his A levels. He had a specific query about uni entrance and subject choice. (Fact of life - teenage dcs do not take any advice from their own parents). He received a long email in reply that didn't answer his question but made a general waffly effort in the right direction. 90% of the email was made up of a generic action plan telling ds how good it was that he was considering his options and he should discuss it with his teachers. Useless.

I'm bloody angry. Young people are being failed.

headlesslambrini Thu 30-May-13 22:26:41

also declaring an interest as a Careers Adviser:

Schools / colleges - now have to arrange their own careers service, this can be anything from directing their students to a website to employing a dedicated careers professional - either individual, who is unlikely to keep up with training as they will be chasing contracts and schools, or a careers company i.e. what was the local connexions service.

Connexions - in essence they can now only see young people who have either dropped out of college or 6th form and are NEET. If they have not dropped out then they are directed back to the school or college who will then refer them to whatever arrangements if any they have made to access careers guidance.

Most of the people who are in the connexions centres tend to be qualified to a lower level and although they do a brilliant job, they are only qualified to give information and to signpost onto other places. They are not qualified to give guidance, hence why sometimes young people's needs are not met.

I have never known it to be so dis-jointed as this. It is certainly very regrettable that it has come to this and unless they fund it properly then it is unlikely to change or improve. Schools need to be given ring-fenced monies in order to provide a decent service, one based on all young people needing an input around careers guidance rather than some get it and some don't.

flow4 Thu 30-May-13 22:44:52

What a nightmare. No wonder so many young people are disengaged from society: society has clearly disengaged from them. sad

streakybacon Fri 31-May-13 07:02:45

Some pennies are dropping here, from what you Careers Advisors are saying. My LA insists that it doesn't regard electively home educated children as NEETs but I'm beginning to wonder if this is the reason why we've found our Connexions branch so helpful for us - that they consider ds to be 'missing education'.

The first person we saw at Connexions, although she admitted she didn't know much about our situation, was very helpful and willing to think outside of her own usual remit and consider how she might meet ds's needs. However, the same person is assigned to a local high school as the advisor for students with special needs and I know that other people's experiences of her has been pretty dismal.

So on the one hand it looks as though home educators here are sneakily viewed as failures by the LA, but on the other we're getting some decent advice as a result.

headlesslambrini Fri 31-May-13 10:55:46

school advisers are likely to be qualified to a higher level and can give advice and guidance. However, each school is now responsible to sort this out themselves - they can meet this responsibility by buying in a service from an individual or careers company or they can meet it by doing a 1 hour session as part of the PSHE days which could simply be to put the students on a website - very poor IMO. Schools will do this to save money.

If your DC has seen a careers adviser at school and you/they are not happy with the advice given then I would advise you to ring them. I often see students who tell me that they are going to achieve certain grades and I use this information to base any advice on, in reality, they sometimes have very little chance of gaining these grades. Schools don't always want to give predicted grade information. I also try to find out what their individual learning styles are as some qualifications post 16 are more suited to those who prefer coursework and others are for those who prefer exams IYSWIM. I often see students who want to go into 6th form but don't like exams or the combination of subjects aren't offered, my job is to make sure that they are aware of all of the choices available to them so they can make the decision. If I only talk to them about A Levels when they would suit the Btec route better then I would be failing in my job. It's their decision to make but they have to know about the alternatives in order to make the right decision. I also tally up any advice to future labour market trends, so if we are talking long term career paths then they need to know that there will be a job there for them or how competitive it may be.

if you visit a careers centre, then the people there may be qualified to a lower level and only qualified to give information - not advice and guidance. They can usually help with CV's, application forms as well. If the young person knows what career they want to go into and are looking for information then they will usually be seen by one of these workers. It is important to ask to speak to a qualified careers adviser if they don't know what they want to do as they will be able to give guidance.

weebarra Fri 31-May-13 16:38:29

Declaring a vested interest as I am a careers adviser.
MNHQ - it is worth pointing out that there is an all age guidance service in Scotland which is unrelated to the National Careers Service which is an English entity.

loflo Fri 31-May-13 18:55:19

Weebarra just took the words out of my mouth. Situation in Scotland (and Wales I believe) is different to that in England.

wonderstuff Fri 31-May-13 20:39:41

Connextions closed down in our area - the service seems disjointed - working in a secondary school I think the service must vary between schools - we are an academy and have to buy in services, connexctions has closed in our area.

My children are KS1 so far too young for careers service.

My aspiration is that they go to university. I think Higher Ed will become increasingly important in the future.

Nutbushcitylimits Fri 31-May-13 21:09:15

Name changed here but also have a vested interest.
The situation in Scotland has been very different for some time and here we continue to have an all age guidance service free and accessible to all.

However there has been a shift in school work in the last year or so, taking a much more targeted approach to school pupils. Those most likely to have barriers to getting and sustaining a positive destination for whatever reason are offered more intensive ongoing one to one support. Those seen as most able are signposted to resources/website in the first instance. It should be said though that no-one would be denied a one to one intervention and all senior pupils are offered group sessions/drop in sessions initially. A one to one intervention would be available thereafter if still required. The worry would be that some may be put off asking for further help.

I sincerely hope we never go the same way as England when it comes to career guidance. There is a massive difference between information and guidance and up here we were horrified to see what happened with Connexions and the decision to hand over responsibility for career guidance and information to individual schools. One of the benefits of an outside agency working in school is that we are completely impartial with no vested interest and hopefully an up to date knowledge of the labour market. Teachers in school sometimes have out of date ideas about the world of work and the opportunities within it or preferences for certain HE/FE institutions.

Last point to defend the Careers Advisers - we work with what we are given. Those pupils who complain that we are useless sometimes only give us part of the picture or paint a completely unrealistic idea of what they may achieve. Schools sometimes share info but not always. Others expect us to tell them what to do often by the end of an initial short intervention. Our role is to provide guidance on navigating career decision making and planning, alongside providing up to date labour market information to enable them to take ownership and make an informed and realistic decision.

gazzalw Fri 31-May-13 21:29:58

First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?

No to us as parents and DCs not quite at that stage yet.... I do recall though that careers advice at school some 30 - 35 years ago was rubbish.....

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?

Well I happen to know that DS's superselective organises a yearly event for the Year 10/11s. DS is only 12 so not quite at that stage yet....

~ And what sort of career aspirations do you have for your children?

Well they are both bright children but in different ways. I guess I would like them to have the knowledge and qualifications to pursue their goals and know the entirety of what's available degree/further education and career-wise. I think when we were 15/16 a lot of the more interesting options were never even discussed at school - whoever had heard of becoming a forensic expert or a psychologist in the late 70s/early 80s...?

weebarra Fri 31-May-13 21:47:45

Yy to everything nutbush says. The system in Scotland is by no means perfect, but we are providing advice and guidance to those who need it.
What is happening in England is very troubling - guidance professionals pride themselves in impartiality and doing the best by the clients they work with, hard to do this when you are employed by a school.

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